On her fourth full-length album, Asperities, cellist Julia Kent continues to explore the dynamics between humanity and nature, but this time out, the focus is on conflict, be it internal, external, or international. The nine pieces on the album are tense and brooding in a way unheard on her previous solo recordings, occasionally peaking in thundering bursts of fury. Titles such as "Flag of No Country" and "Empty States" imply distrust in governments and a disillusionment with the state of the world, and the songs (especially "Empty States") are caustic to match.
There is an air of claustrophobia and looming dread which permeates the whole of cellist and avant-garde composer Julia Kent’s latest release, Asperities. Throughout, she layers her primary instrument to create a one-woman chamber orchestra built on drones and the evocation of specific moods rather than an over-reliance on melody and rhythm. Instead, this approach to minimalism built largely upon drones and tonal shading, owes more to ambient music than the traditional classical music framework within which the cello is most often employed.
Asperities are harsh qualities or conditions. I had to look that up, though the bleak, snowy landscapes evoked by Canadian cellist Julia Kent on her album of that name couldn’t convey the feeling any more clearly. Her combination of low string tones, subtle electronics, and scratchy field recordings feel like looking out the car window as you roll through the desolate roads in the middle of nowhere, on the way to something terrible, or having left something terrible, or both.